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    Its problem! PokerStars announces it will not pay Full Tilt Poker affiliates.

    Posted by Chris Grove October 16, 2012

    The decision is confusing and it could have a greater impact on player balances beyond affiliates.

    By Chris Grove

    Buried near the bottom of the email that was sent out yesterday is a line I had to read a few times before I could properly comprehend it:

    “For those accounts where player funds are commingled with funds derived from affiliate earnings, The Rational Group will only be making the portion of the funds relating to your previous player activity available for withdrawal.”

    Whoa.

    The above policy as articulated ensures that, in many cases, PokerStars will not be refunding the full balances of players at Full Tilt Poker. Let me point out two very important flaws in PokerStars’ approach, and one very alarming possibility that may come as a result of it.

    Funds derived from affiliate earnings are player funds.

    To me, this is basically self-evident. Full Tilt Poker paid affiliates via player account transfers (this was the only option available to affiliates). Once the money went from Full Tilt to the player account, it became player funds. The money is, for all intents and purposes, no different than money deposited by the player or transferred to the player by a friend.

    To be clear, we’re not talking about some sort of outstanding debt here. I understand why PokerStars doesn’t have the obligation to pay affiliates the money still owed by Full Tilt Poker. What we’re talking about here, though, are funds that were already credited to the player. If Full Tilt had remained open, players would have been able to use these funds to play poker and would have been free to cash them out. How PokerStars can lay any claim to these player funds is something I cannot yet explain.

    Once funds commingle, they’re indistinguishable.

    Let’s say that Brian played at Full Tilt Poker and had a balance of $1000 on April 1st. On April 3rd, Full Tilt paid him $500 into his player account for his affiliate activity. On April 5th, Brian loses $300 at the tables and then successfully withdraws $200.

    His balance is now back to $1000. How much of that is from “affiliate earnings” and how much is from “player activity?” Which money did Brian cash out, and how do you know?

    Obviously this is a highly problematic policy on its face, but the issue is compounded by the fact that there are basically zero details in the email from PokerStars regarding this unprecedented policy. For example, how far back is PokerStars looking to define “affiliate earnings?” Just the last month before Black Friday? Six months? Since the beginning of time?

    And now for the very alarming possibility…

    PokerStars might extend this policy to withhold more than just affiliate earnings.

    The email only describes a specific policy in the case of accounts that received affiliate payments. However, it’s not impossible to see how a litany of similar activity – non-playing activity – could quickly become subject to a similar policy.

    Recall the wording: “The Rational Group will only be making the portion of the funds relating to your previous player activity available for withdrawal.” If PokerStars is actually intending to only allow players to withdraw funds related to player activity, what happens to:

    ● Funds transferred into a player’s account as part of a swap on another poker site?
    ● Funds sent to a player by a backer, or from someone the player was backing?
    ● Funds sent to settle a loan or other debt?
    ● Funds sent to purchase software or training site memberships?

    Those are just four quick examples of very common financial activity on Full Tilt not related at all to “player activity.” While the email doesn’t address anything but affiliate activity, anyone surprised that PokerStars would claw back affiliate earnings has to ask the next logical question: Did Stars just lay the groundwork for denying ROW players access to those parts of their balances as well?

    If you are still on the fence about the relative fairness of this new policy by PokerStars, consider this: When PokerStars announced their purchase of Full Tilt Poker, their language was unequivocal:

    “PokerStars will also make available in a segregated bank account, all outstanding balances owing to all non-U.S. customers of Full Tilt Poker (an amount totalling USD $184 million), with no restrictions on withdrawals, within 90 days of completing this transaction.”

    That’s “all outstanding balances,” not “balances after we deduct bits here and there.” That’s “no restrictions on withdrawals,” not “significant restrictions on what parts of your bankroll we’ll let you have back.”

    PokerStars has rightfully earned its good reputation by consistently acting with dignity in the months since Black Friday, but yesterday’s news puts a substantial dent in the image of a room that many players have long regarded as beyond reproach.

    Chris Grove is the founder and editor of the Online Poker Report. He can be followed on Twitter at @OPReport.

    QuadJacks - Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    There are 5 Comments

    1. Phil
      - October 17, 2012
        -   Reply

      Isn’t that referring to accounts owned by affiliates themselves, and is talking about referral fees, and the like, rather than rakeback to regular players.

      Hope so. Obv.

      • - October 17, 2012
          -   Reply

        @Phil – It is just referencing accounts of affiliates, but for people like me; I was both. I played at Full Tilt Poker full time, which led to me creating training videos and becoming an affiliate business on the side. Full Tilt Poker would pay me affiliate earnings by depositing them into my poker account, which was the same as my personal funded account (it had to be, multiple accounts weren’t allowed). Now I’m in the situation where I don’t know what money I’m going to get back from this fiasco, if any at all.

    2. LoveBear
      - October 17, 2012
        -   Reply

      I guess some (former) Red Pros are just sh****ng their pants!

      Think of all the money deposited into their accounts that was not “playing activity” as such…

      Amazing that so much is still so unclear so close to Nov 6 !

    3. - October 17, 2012
        -   Reply

      It basically amounts to theft, Full Tilt keeping affiliate money already paid to affiliates accessible via their player accounts despite the agreement to pay all ROW outstanding player balances.

      If you hear of any lawsuits by a group of affiliates relating to this please drop me an email.

    4. Pingback Opinion: Stars Should Muck Parts of Their FTP Affiliate Policy | Online Poker Report

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